Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) sailed through an uncontested primary on Tuesday, but her endorsement record for House primaries took a hit — this time in her home state.
The Democrat, part of a new generation of progressives eager to grow their ranks in Congress, has lent her support to ideological allies in their quest to topple candidates perceived to be centrists or part of the party establishment.
One such ally, state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, was handily defeated on Tuesday by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), a powerful lawmaker who controls House Democrats’ campaign purse strings. Ocasio-Cortez had endorsed Biaggi in the contest.
Had Biaggi succeeded, her election would have been reminiscent of Ocasio-Cortez’s own insurgent candidacy for the House. The onetime bartender surprised political observers when she defeated longtime Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY), the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, in 2018. Crowley had been seen as a potential successor to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
Biaggi’s loss isn’t the first setback for Ocasio-Cortez this cycle. She also endorsed Jessica Cisneros, a progressive challenger who attempted to oust centrist Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) in June.
Cisneros narrowly lost to Cuellar for the second time, as the pair also faced off in 2020. That contest became a sort of proxy battle between Democrats who argue the party should be a big tent and accept members with differing views on abortion — as Cuellar is considered the last anti-abortion Democrat in the House — and those who say there is no room for dissent on the issue.
Cisneros made Cuellar’s views on abortion central to her message to voters in the final weeks of the race after a leaked draft opinion revealed the Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade.
Ocasio-Cortez also endorsed Nina Turner, who lost a primary challenge to Rep. Shontel Brown in Ohio in May.
But it hasn’t been all losses for the influential progressive, including a win in New York on Tuesday for one of her colleagues. Ocasio-Cortez endorsed her fellow “Squad” member and New York Democrat Rep. Jamaal Bowman, who won renomination by double digits in the state’s 16th District primary.
She also backed Pennsylvania progressive Summer Lee, the winner of the state’s 12th District Democratic primary in May.
Biaggi launched her bid earlier this year after Maloney angered progressives by choosing to run for a left-wing Democrat’s seat after redistricting made his district less desirable. Maloney’s move drove Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY) to compete in another district instead of face a primary with Maloney.
If Maloney, as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, ran in a primary against Jones, an incumbent, some lawmakers including Ocasio-Cortez argued at the time, it would have presented a conflict of interest.
During the primary, Biaggi hit Maloney for the DCCC’s practice of meddling in Republican primaries to elevate candidates who denied the legitimacy of the 2020 election. Some Democrats sought to elevate these candidates in primaries, arguing it would help Democrats win general elections.